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  • Writer's pictureDr. Keon Kirlew

Custom Service vs. Customer Experience In Healthcare

Updated: Jan 24, 2022

What is the difference between customer service and customer experience? Is one more important in healthcare compared to the other?

My opinion is both are equally as important. If you put your energy into one over the other, I would choose customer experience simply because it takes more energy to create.

Let me explain the difference between the two. Customer service is reactionary. For example, a customer comes into the clinic, you say, “how can I help you,” or a patient finishes their treatment, and you say, “can I help you with booking any future appointments.” This almost seems like common sense.

For the most part, customer service reacts to predictable moves customers will make in your business, such as calling your phone to ask questions or paying for services. Customer experience is very proactive, meaning you are predicting what customers will want. You are making the first move in providing an experience you believe the customer will want before the customer makes the first move.

Customer experience tends to be more challenging because it involves getting feedback and observing patterns from patients or other businesses, and implementing changes into your business. You then repeat the pattern of analyzing your customers’ reaction to what you have implemented and improving the experience. This is why I suggest that if you have to put energy into improving one, I would choose customer experience because it’s a lot less common for businesses to do this than customer service.

Some people might be thinking, what is the benefit of experience over service? As long as your customer service is performing well, building a customer experience will allow you to separate yourself from your competitors. An example of customer experience is noticing that 6/10 patients coming into your clinic are getting water before their treatment, so you decide to offer each patient a cold glass of water as soon as they enter the clinic for their appointment. This is being proactive. You are not waiting for the patient to ask where they can get water and respond in a friendly way; you anticipate they will want water and prepare a great experience in advance. Even if they were the 4/10 that didn’t want water, the gesture will still be taken well.

Improving customer service can be done very quickly in a business with proper training because it’s very predictable and reactionary. Customer experience can take longer to develop because you must anticipate that what customers want and what customers want is forever changing. An experience you are creating for four months can change for the next four months after that. I believe that a business can survive without customer experience but can’t survive without customer service. You have to get the service portion up to standards. Once it’s reached, a great idea is to add energy to building up customer experience to allow your business to stand out!

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